LANCASTER, Pa. President Bush vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have renewed and further developed the state-federal health insurance program for children in low-income families.
The program, known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, was vetoed Wednesday morning as the president affirmed that the program expansion would be too costly. Bush said it was reaching limits beyond its original objective.
The president said that several states are spending more money on adults than children. He also declared that the proposal could have possibly allowed children in families earning as much as $83,000 a year to receive coverage under the program, which diverts them away from private health insurance.
“That doesn’t sound poor to me,” Bush said. “The policies of the government ought to be: help poor children and to focus on poor children. And the policies of the government ought to be: help people find private insurance, not federal coverage. And that’s where the philosophical divide comes in.”
Bush added that the bill passed by Congress manifests “the desire by some in Washington, D.C. to federalize health care. I don’t think that is good for the country.” He said the government should be doing more to make private insurance affordable to those who lack health coverage.
“I don’t want the federal government making decisions for doctors and customers,” he added.
Congress had been working to draft the revision of the 10-year-old program, which expired September 30. The veto, however, does not mean the program will end immediately. Bush and Congress have agreed to extend the current program though November 16 while they try to work on a new version. Some political figures, however, said that it is not enough.
“Today we learned that the same president who is willing to throw away a half-trillion dollars in Iraq is unwilling to spend a small fraction of that amount to bring health care to American children,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. “The Congress has done its job, passing a bipartisan bill that meets a critical need without adding a penny to the federal deficit. The president has broken his promise to America’s children.”
If it had been approved, the monies given to the program would have stemmed from an increased tobacco tax.